Posts Tagged ‘PSA’

Recently I was on Facebook and saw an ad for a local chiropractor’s office offering three hours of massage for less than $100. I was instantly furious. Several thoughts bounced around the inside of my head while I was trying to determine what made me so mad. Was I upset about possibly losing business? Yes, but not so much for this kind of emotional reaction. Was it the chiropractor’s office? Maybe, but I’d never even heard of the place before. Was it the massage therapist? Maybe, but I didn’t even know who worked there. Was it the ad itself? Just a black and white text affair, blunt, but no. It took a bit before it finally coalesced to the point that I could put it into words.

Who in their right mind is willing to do three hours of massage for less than $100?

As an independent business owner and massage therapist the only scenario that makes sense is that the business is doing it to bring in more business. Okay, that’s one way to do it, but is the massage therapist getting paid a previously agreed upon minimum hourly rate? Or are they having to eat the cut rate? It’s one thing for me to decide to cut my rates and do a special, it’s another thing for an employer to decide that for me.

Let me break some of the numbers down and give you an idea of why I found myself so angry at this Facebook ad.

I’m an independent massage therapist whose rates are currently $70/hour. When I do an hour of massage I receive from my client $70. With that $70 I keep the doors open, the heat, air, lights, and water on, supplies stocked and pay any other business related expenses, pay taxes, pay myself so I can keep food on the table (and in the dog’s bowls) and a safe place for my family to live.

As an employed massage therapist when the employer runs a “special” the massage therapist typically takes at least a share of the hit. So that special for 3-hours for $100 works out to 1-hour for $33.33. The employer then takes their share which is negotiable at the time of employment and is typically 40-60% depending on what the employer supplies. So out of $33.33 the employer will take $13.33, if the massage therapist is lucky, leaving them $19.99 for an hour of massage. If they’re not so lucky those numbers flip, the house takes $19.99 leaving the massage therapist $13.33.

Now, I am fully in support of the house taking their cut, they have to in order to keep the doors open. But can you imagine going to school, graduating, being required to take and pass a national-level exam, purchasing and maintaining liability insurance, going through the process of becoming licensed by the state, maintaining continuing education hours in order to become a skilled professional all to be paid $13.33 for an hours worth of work?

I certainly cannot and before you move away from that list I just wrote about all the things you have to do to become a legally practicing professional massage therapist in the state of Alabama, consider that every single thing on that list takes money. Most of those steps take a lot of money.

So it’s just not feasible from a business standpoint for a massage therapist to agree to work for this kind of pay. They can’t keep up their certification and licensing much less put food on the table. Add to that, people flock to these kinds of deals giving that therapist a lot of work to do. So they’re wearing their bodies down without receiving sufficient resources to maintain their self-care or livelihood. I think we can all agree this is not good practice nor is it sustainable.

So who would agree to work for this pittance?

Unfortunately, the massage therapists who agree to work under these circumstances are often desperate for money and employment, very young, just graduated from massage school, have student loans coming due, and/or a combination of these. So deal shoppers who bounce from place to place looking for the cheapest deals are essentially taking advantage of someone who is already down on their luck or trying to get started. They also may not be receiving the best massages either because let’s face it, how good a job do you do when you’re stressed out and worried about how you’re going to pay the electric bill.

What Can We Do?

As a consumer of massage, you can either refuse to deal shop or if you do, tip the therapist directly at a very high percentage. If you can’t afford to make up the difference in the tip then book at least two more appointments at full price for every one appointment you get at a discounted rate, write a review for the therapist, and send your friends to that massage therapist. In other words, do all you can to support that person.

As a massage therapist, you can negotiate these things with your employer. It’s best if it’s in the employment contract or agreement, but you can still negotiate with them even after you’ve signed an agreement. Insist on a minimum rate of pay for your services. Insist on limits, both to the number of “deals” they offer per year and how many massages they sell at the discounted rate or give away for free. Don’t expect that to be an easy conversation, but nothing worth having comes easy or cheap. Also consider the possibility that self-employment may be a better option.

In a perfect world we would all get paid what we are worth. Unfortunately, our system doesn’t work that way and we get paid what we settle for or what the market will bear. As a massage therapist I choose not to settle for less and know that sometimes I’ll be slow because there are lots of deals floating around. As a consumer of massage I refuse to shop the deals because it artificially dilutes the value of massage therapy and makes it harder for all of us, consumers and massage therapists, to afford.

So if it sounds too good to be true, you know it probably is, at least in the long run. Anyway, here are a couple of related articles that you may now be interested in reading: How to support your favorite businesses for free and How to find a great massage therapist

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!
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I just wanted to take a moment to address the sexual misconduct involving one of the giant massage therapy chains that has been in the news recently.  I am horrified and disgusted that someone in my profession has violated the sanctity of our collective healing space.

People come to massage to find a safe place in which to let their mind and body relax and begin the healing process. Obviously, it’s not to be assaulted. While it is impossible for an employer to control individual employees’ actions, it is deplorable that virtually nothing has been done to address the now hundreds of complaints that have been filed against these employees. The company owes their clientele better and I will be surprised if there’s not repercussions for not removing predators from their employ in a timely manner. I am saddened that so many people are now having to deal with the trauma of being assaulted when they rightly believed they were safe.

All that being said, I just wanted to make sure that you, as a consumer of massage, know exactly what to expect when you schedule a massage. And I want to give you some straight talk about what to do if ANYONE or ANYTHING ever makes you feel uncomfortable while receiving massage with any bodyworker, anywhere.

As a massage therapist and bodyworker, my main goal is to help you feel better. I strive to create a safe, comfortable space for you. You will find this is a common thread among people who practice a healing art. We know receiving massage can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Most of the time you will be unclothed to some degree, possibly lying face down, and someone you may not know yet will be touching you. I never want you to feel unsafe or uncomfortable so read on and know that you are always in charge when you are receiving a massage.

A Bodywork Client’s Bill of Rights

  1. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t like my music, if you feel cold, if the sheet feels scratchy or if I’m actually hurting you.
  2. If you feel unsafe for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I need to figure out what’s wrong so you can feel safe again.
  3. If you feel like you want to stop the session and leave for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I don’t want to subject you to an experience you don’t want.
  4. If you feel like you need to cry, let it out. You might startle me, but I’m not going to run away.
  5. Your massage is your time. It may be the only hour you get this week, month, or year to be perfectly yourself and let your mind and body enter into a healing state so please tell me if there’s something I need to do to help you have the best massage experience possible.

What To Do If You’re Assaulted During a Massage

  1. If you’re able, stop the session and leave the establishment immediately.
  2. Once you are safe, go directly to the police department or the emergency department (depending on the severity of the assault).
  3. Expect to make a police report on the incident.
  4. After making a police report ask the police if it is okay for you to call the business and make a formal complaint against the therapist. This is assuming this happened in a multi-therapist office.
  5. Make a formal complaint against the therapist with the state Board of Massage Therapy.

I hope this never happens to you. I hope it never happens to anyone and I am horrified that it has happened at all.

How To Prevent Assault During a Massage

Unfortunately, in our world as it currently stands it is impossible to prevent someone from doing harm if they are intent on committing assault. Even if you’re willing to use deadly force to protect yourself there’s no guarantee you won’t still be hurt in the process. Such a sad and frightening prospect, but there are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself.

As a massage therapist in the State of Alabama, I am required to maintain a massage therapy license with the state. In order to do that I have to agree to and abide by a whole host of laws that deal with the ethical treatment of my clients. Many of those laws specifically outline boundaries and forbid me from assaulting a client. Not that I need a law to know that it’s just wrong to assault a client… So when considering going to a new massage therapist make sure they are licensed. And there are a few other things you can do, here’s how to tell if they’re legit and agree to ethical boundaries.

I hope you have found some helpful information here. And while I would have preferred to never have to address this situation, please know that Harvest Moon Massage Therapy will always be a safe space where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

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There’s a dirty little secret lurking in your clothes dryer. For years I’ve heard safety experts talk about cleaning your dryer to prevent fires. And for years I thought, “What a load!” and “Who has time for that?” and “That won’t happen to me!”

Until one day I noticed my dryer wasn’t performing particularly well. It was about 11 years old. And I began to wonder whether there was anything to this cleaning out the dryer for better performance thing I’d been hearing about. I Googled about it and everything came back with, “Clean your dryer!”

So then I got on YouTube and searched for my brand and style of dryer and lo and behold found a wonderful Hispanic man speaking in English showing how to clean out my particular dryer. His accent was fabulous! And his style was fun so one morning I sat about cleaning my dryer. Did I mention it had been 11 years? It was frightening. I wish I had taken pictures. There were literally bricks of compressed lint built up in the thing.

Fast forward a few more years down the road and said dryer gave up the ghost. Right in the middle of a load of sheets. And a mere two weeks after I had cleaned the machine and the exhaust system out. Hmmmph!

Somehow I managed to score a new-to-me, used dryer for the most reasonable price ever (free). Then one morning I went to work and when I arrived home it was installed and all my sheets were dry. Gotta love your neighbors!

So because I now know what dryers can look like on the inside and I didn’t have any maintenance history on this thing, I decided I should probably clean it. This time I took pictures and I wanted to show you why it’s important to clean out your dryer.

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This is what I found when I got the front panel off. Notice the “mice” made out of lint and the whispy nature of the wiring. Something else that was immediately apparent is that a lot of the foam seals had lost their adhesive and were hanging or just disintegrating. These are important to fix or replace because the seals keep the lint in the exhaust system and not in the interior of the dryer with the electrical parts. Aka, fire hazard!
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There were rafts of lint in the corners and standing on top of flat surfaces and all the electrical and motorized parts were covered in lint.
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The exhaust trap was caked with hardened lint on the inside and covered in dust and lint on the outside.
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And possibly the scariest part of all was this turbine thingamajig that I pulled this pile of lint out of. The good news is that with a vacuum, a little flexibility, elbow grease, and time this easy household task was accomplished and now I don’t feel like I have to stand over the dryer with a fire extinguisher every time I turn it on.

I’m not even going to address the bacterial potential for what goes on in the innards of a dryer. Just know that you really don’t want to leave wet clothes hanging out in your dryer. Trust me. Really, trust me on that. And over dry everything just a tad.

Since I do so much laundry, three to four loads per day just in sheets, I clean my dryer out every three months. I’m not sure what is recommended for a normal household, but I will tell you that 11 years was way, way too long. We were lucky. So if you haven’t lately (or ever), make time to clean out your dryer!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!

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Recently I started attending an Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregiver Support group. Many of you already know that I help to care for an elder who has severe dementia. We spent several years struggling along by ourselves trying our best to provide the support she needs as her dementia continues to escalate.

Then last year a friend turned me on to these meetings at the Morgan County Mental Health Association. They are for caregivers and family members of people who suffer with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and I can’t say enough about how helpful this program and the people who run it have been. Whether you need advice on services available in the community to help you and your loved one cope with the frightening changes they’re experiencing or you just need a break and to sit and talk with someone who understands they seem to know and be available for you.

I didn’t get to attend the last meeting which is a shame because they hosted a local specialist on Elder Law. That would have been helpful. Maybe next month I can get a synopsis of what we should be doing and looking at.

Anyway, if you’re local to Morgan County, Alabama and struggling with Alzheimer’s and/or dementias in your family, this meeting is free and open to the community.

When: 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7 – 8:30 pm

Where: 207 Commerce Circle SW, Decatur, AL

More info: Morgan County Mental Health Association

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashi-Thai Massage

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usda-guide-to-nutrition-labels-ga-1I was at Target earlier today trying to buy myself a salad for lunch when a conversation broke out in front of me. Seems the gentleman checking everyone out hadn’t had his lunch yet and it being lunchtime he was scanning and bagging lots of peoples’ lunches. It was making him hungry. That’s when the lady in front of me, who was slurping on some slushy Starbucks chocolatey-looking thing, busted out with, “This shake is my lunch.”

I looked at her and tried not to judge her at that point. Who drinks a coffee drink for lunch and how do you survive the rest of the day if you do? Which then led me to wonder how many calories are in something like that? Hmm… less than I expected, but the sugar, yikes!

Which then led me to wonder how many people care? And do you know how to read a nutrition label? Do you read nutrition labels?

Maybe I’m just special that way, but I read the label on everything. Even those bottles of drops you’re supposed to put in your water to make it flavorful. I don’t use that stuff cause I don’t know what all those chemicals are in the ingredient list.

So because I’m feeling all tutorish right now and also like I need to atone for judging the Starbucks lady, here’s the quick and dirty on how to read the nutrition labels on foods.

Serving size – This is always good to check because many foods and beverages are packaged for more than one serving. Disappointing, I know.

Servings Per Container – That tells you how many servings are in the box, bag or bottle.

Now here’s the tricky part, every other number on this label is calculated for the serving size (not the whole container). That means if there are two servings in the package and you eat the whole thing you get double the number of calories, fats, cholesterol, carbohydrates and proteins. Four servings, and you need to multiply it by four. Get it?

I’m not going to go into each one of those categories because frankly everybody is different and their nutritional needs are different. It’s impossible to say eat this, don’t eat that because I don’t know what you require.

Add to that even the people who are supposed to be experts on nutrition disagree on what we should and should not be eating. In the 80’s eggs were the mortal enemy to cholesterol. Now they’re ok. High fructose corn syrup, if the manufacturer is to be believed it’s A-OK in moderation, but there are studies saying it increases your chance to develop diabetes. Artificial sweeteners used to be the bees knees, but now some are considered neurotoxins.

My rule of thumb, if I can’t pronounce it, I’m probably not going to eat it. If the ingredients are unrecognizable, I’m probably not going to eat it. Now before you think I’m just all la-ti-da about the food, I should probably disclose that I spent a lot of years not caring what went in to my body. Fortunately my massage career (and my cholesterol level) changed all that. I have to manage my food and my health more closely now so that I can feel good, be available to help my clients feel better and, ultimately, stay in business.

So what about you? What’s your food policy?

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy Massage

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When Is Your Next Massage?

Massage Therapists, I’m talking to you. When is your next massage?  I see you rubbing your toe in the dirt. When was your last massage? Now your ears are turning red. I know how that feels, my mentor recently crawled me for not taking care of myself.

Why is it that we, as massage therapists, seem to be the last ones crawling on the table for a massage? I don’t have time is a common answer. I’m too busy taking care of my clients/children/pets/house/office. I know. I’m there.

But how can we expect to be taken seriously when our clients watch us breaking ourselves down as we are telling them they need to x, y and z to take better care of themselves? If we believe they need to come see us once a week, every other week, once a month then how is it we don’t need massage?

In addition to my mentor calling me out, one of my very regular clients recently began asking me, “Who gives you a massage?” The first time she asked and heard my answer she made it clear she was not happy with it. She expressed to me that it made her feel guilty to know I was massaging her when I never go take care of myself by getting a massage. It had been months, she was right, and oh, the guilt I suffered over that conversation.

She comes once a month, she asks once a month and she expects an answer. One that goes sorta like, “My last massage was with Megan. She did a great job and my feet and legs feel a lot better!” (True story, that.)

I have set a new intention. At least one massage per month in the year of 2013. It’s going to be hard. I’m stirring a lot of pots right now, just like you, but I challenge you anyway. I challenge you to pick up the phone and make a massage appointment for yourself, right now. Leave a voice mail if you have to, but do it. Your clients deserve it.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Fijian Barefoot Massage

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Roses are Red, Violets are Blue
Guess Who I Haven’t Seen Lately?

Is it you?

Is it time for you to schedule a massage now that all the Valentine’s Day craziness is over? I’d love to see you on my table this month. Call today to schedule your next massage.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashi-Thai Massage

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